The Pencil Sharpener in the Basement

Pencil Sharpener

It seems like most of the houses I’ve lived in had this feature… you could go into the basement with a pencil and there would be a pencil sharpener attached to the wall (or a wooden post) and you could sharpen a pencil.

This “feature” was something I just expected, and when I went downstairs into my basement (where I already spend a lot of time because my workshop is down there) I realized there was no pencil sharpener! Then I thought about it, and remember that (even though we’ve lived here for over three years) there was no pencil sharpener in the basement! Well, there was, but it was a crappy electric one that fell apart and then I fixed a few years ago. Oddly enough my mind just filled in the spot that says “there is a pencil sharpener on the wall in the basement” even though there wasn’t.

So I asked people… Have you lived in a house where there’s a pencil sharpener mounted to a wall in the basement? And over 100 people on Facebook replied.

I distinctly remember the previous house we lived in had one. I didn’t take it with us because we didn’t own the house, and I just figured it was a “feature” of the house, like a stationary tub or whatever. You wouldn’t take the stationary tub when you moved, would you?

Doctor Prodoehl has a pencil case with many pencils (she prefers the Mirado Black Warrior) and she has tiny pencil sharpeners that are portable. I wanted a classic wall mounted pencil sharpener in the basement, dammit! So I ordered one…

I found the X-ACTO KS Manual Pencil Sharpener, Metal Finish for $9.99 on Amazon Prime. I had it in two days. It’s glorious.

Pencil Sharpener

Now, when I decided to mount the pencil sharpener to the wall (or a wooden post) I had some problems. I mean, where should it go? I didn’t want it in the way, but wanted it accessible. I opted for a wall near our “storage” part of the basement. Here’s where it gets tricky/weird/problematic.

First of all, the sharpener came with two screws but the base has three holes. Weird. I then drilled two holes, screwed in one screws, then the second screw, and the head snapped off the second screw. Argh! This was okay though, because I then realized the spot I had chosen didn’t even allow for a brand new pencil to be sharpened because it was too close to a shelf to get a pencil into the sharpener!

I then drilled more holes, and moved the pencil sharpener to the right a bit. Plenty of room for pencils! I also used some larger drywall screws. It’s in there good, and should remain in place… until we move, when I remove it to take it with us. Just in case.

As for that photo above, yes… you can see the word “BiBle.” on the wall. Which is pretty weird. I mean, I’ve never noticed it before, but it is in a darker corner of the basement, and I’ve never really shined a bright light on that wall, or used a camera flash on that wall. What does it mean!? Hell if I know!


Pencil – Prototyping with Firefox

One of the reasons I love Mozilla so much is the diversity of projects that have come out of the technology they’ve created. Take for instance, the Pencil Project, which has a mission to “build a free and open source tool for making diagrams and GUI prototyping that everyone can use.”

I spent a little time playing with Pencil in Firefox (there’s also a standalone version if you’re using Windows or Linux, made possible by XULRunner) and it’s a nice little prototyping toolbox.

Pencil UI

Here’s what the Pencil UI looks like when run in Firefox on Mac OS X. The left side contains your typical drawing elements, bits, and pieces, and the right side is your canvas.

Pencil Sketchy GUI

Here’s the “Sketchy GUI” collection, which simulates rough sketches of UI elements, allowing you to quickly mock-up what something like a web app control panel might look like.

Pencil Mock-up

Here’s a quick mock-up I did with Pencil. Wow, it looks just like an actual sketched mock-up of a web UI element… pretty amazing, eh?

Pencil Graphic

Pencil also lets you drop images into the canvas and resize and crop them, so you could use it as a quick-n-dirty (somewhat limited) image editing application that runs within Firefox.

There’s much better screen shots at the Pencil site. There’s also guides for users, and developers, and plenty of other stuff to check out, so get prototyping!